I’m currently enrolled in Neuroteach Global’s gamified micro-course, The Science of Study. It consists of eight story-based chapters and two real-life missions.
The first mission asked us to implement some of the “effective study strategies” we had been learning about in the course into our classroom teaching. I do a ton of this in my classes, particularly in the purely online AP course I am currently teaching. For example, before every quiz or test, students create a self-made practice quiz and then take and grade that mock assessment. Additionally, they do Flipgrid “screencasts”, commentaries on peer work, and after-assessment reflections.
But as I was going through the Neuroteach course, one of the strategies they talked a bit about was encouraging students to use flashcards in their studying:
Flashcard practice is one of the more effective study strategies. When introducing students to new facts and concepts in class, have them create flashcards that they can use later when they study. Make it fun and interactive by asking all students to share ideas for card content and design ~Neuroteach Global Course
Though we make flashcards when we get to the final “AP Prep” unit, I don’t actually ask my students to make flashcards throughout the course. So, for this mission, I decided that I wanted to use Flashcard Factory in Pear Deck (aka: Pear Deck Vocabulary). Flashcard Factory is a tool that I used to use when I had my face-to-face classes, but now that I am teaching purely online, it is not one that I’ve integrated into my lessons. That changed with this mission.
The main purpose of Pear Deck Vocabulary is to “Increase retention and engagement with this fun, team-oriented vocabulary game! Let students work together to create the best example sentences and illustrations for your vocabulary terms. At the end of the game, review and choose the final flashcard set. You can export the final set to Quizlet – and you don’t need even need a Quizlet account.”
In AP Calculus, we are doing a reflective unit making sure that students are understanding the relationship between f, f’, and f” – both algebraically and graphically. So I decided to create some “terms” in Flashcard Factory focused on pushing students to make those deeper connections. What I like most about Flashcard Factory is that it gives students the space (and requires them) to both verbalize their thinking (in the “write an example” section) and visualize their thinking (in the “draw an example” section).
Here is an example of what the Production Phase looks like for this activity:
After students have had the chance to get their terms filled in, we take things to the Quality Control phase in Pear Deck. This is an important piece to do synchronously with students. I’m still figuring out how I will pull that off in my online course. But the reason this phase is so important is not simply that it allows students to see the work of their classmates; but, more importantly, the Quality Control phase forces students to critically evaluate each submission in order to decide if the card should be “accepted” or “rejected.” Powerful learning can happen in the process of talking about which answers are correct, which are incorrect (and why), and which responses students want to “accept” for the next phase.
The final phase is Shipping. Here, all “accepted” cards are “shipped” to Quizlet. This study set can be shared with students as their final study aid. Students can use this Quizlet set to study at their own pace later.
Pear Deck Vocabulary takes “flashcards” to the next level because it is not just about term/definition; instead, Pear Deck Vocabulary is all about helping students create examples to help students contextualize their learning. Having students create both a visual and written representation of their understanding is powerful in this activity. “Learning is stronger when it matters, when the abstract is made concrete and personal.” ~Make It Stick, by Peter C. Brown. Pear Deck’s Flashcard Factory is all about helping students do just this.
Bonus: after assigning this Pear Deck review, one of my students actually messaged me and said “that was definitely a fun review activity… I feel really prepared!” And he totally aced the quiz :)